Saturday, December 5, 2020

Thought precedes action

The current issue of National Review celebrates the magazine's sixty-fifth anniversary. It does so by publishing essays by many of today's best conservative writers. One of them, Robert P. George, a professor at Princeton, quotes the 19th century German poet Heinrich Heine predicting, in 1834, what would happen in a post-Christian Germany (and it did come to pass in Germany in the 20th century).  George thinks it might also have some application to America today.
Christianity, and this is its greatest merit, has somewhat mitigated the brutal Ger­man love of war, but it could not destroy it. Should that subduing talisman, the cross, be shattered, the frenzied madness of the ancient warriors, that insane Berserk rage of which the Nordic bards have spoken and sung so often, will once more burst into flame. This talisman [the cross, Christianity] is fragile. And the day will come when it will collapse miserably. Then the ancient stony gods will rise from the forgotten debris and rub the dust of a thousand years from their eyes. And then Thor, with his giant hammer, will jump up and smash the Gothic cathedrals.

Do not smile at my advice, the advice of a dreamer who warns you against Kantians, Fichteans, and philosophers of nature. Do not smile at the visionary who anticipates the same revolution in the realm of the visible that has already taken place in the realm of the spirit. Thought precedes action, as lightning precedes thunder. German thunder is of true Teutonic character. It is not nimble, but rumbles ponderously. Yet it will come. And when you hear a crashing such as never before has been heard in the history of the world, then you will know that the German thunderbolt has fallen. At that uproar, the eagles of the air will drop dead. The lions in the remotest deserts of Africa will hide in their royal dens. A play will be performed in Germany which will make the French Revolution look like an innocent idyll.
Heinrich Heine’s Prophecy of Nazism

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